|Maria Grajdian. TakaWiki and the Dialectics of Fandom and Knowledge in Late-Modernity|
TakaWiki and the Dialectics of Fandom and Knowledge in Late-ModernityMaria Grajdian, Associate Professor of Media Studies&Anthropology of Media At Nagasaki University
1. Introduction: the pragmatics of fandomThe fact that Japan is reinventing superpower as cultural issue is a general truism since McGray's seminal study in 2002. A faithful interpreter of Japan's ambitions is the popular all-female musical theater Takarazuka Revue. Most academic discussions on Takarazuka Revue tackle the problematic of the fascinating otokoyaku figures [i.e., female interpreters of male roles in the Takarazuka Revue] (see Berlin 1988; Kawasaki 1999; Robertson 1998; Stickland 2008) respectively the tension between the androgynously charismatic otokoyaku figures and the apparently conformist-submissive musumeyaku figures [i.e., female interpreters of female roles in the Takarazuka Revue] (Grajdian 2005, 2009) as its actresses: on the one hand, there is extroversion and self-confidence; on the other hand, there is cuteness and fragility.
As to be shown further below, this analysis takes as its departure point Judith Butler's gender theory regarding gender in the light of performative reiteration of norms through bodies and language, and pursues the line of how fandom discourses structure and influence the on-stage performances. The fan-based encyclopaedic database TakaWiki (www.takarazuka-revue.info) is a clear example as to how such intertwining discourses and practices function. TakaWiki is a huge database in English created and maintained by Western fans of Takarazuka Revue. It basically reformulates off-stage the virtual and symbolical historic-geographical characteristics of Takarazuka Revue as one of Japan's most effective - and obvious - instruments in its culturally imperialistic endeavours (sometimes officially promoted as Soft Power or Cool Japan). Within the performative act open to splittings, self-parody and self-criticism, as gender is displayed on-stage, the asymmetrical relationship between otokoyaku and musumeyaku reflects continuously a strategic ambivalence of gender theatrical representation. Regarding the otokoyaku as a female-embodied androgyny could reach the borders of the attempts to camouflage "unconventional" female sexual practices by creating the illusion of an asexual - actually, a disembodied - gender identity (see Stickland 2008:39). On the other hand, considering the musumeyaku a culturally institutionalized media representing the female body and gender ideology in modern Japan endows the relationship between performance and gender with nostalgia linking the mythological image of Japan as a female entity to the naturalization of female gender ideals as Kabuki's onnagata. Thus, the conservative, traditionalist musumeyaku becomes a symbol of the fluidity and sedimented historicity of gender following the non-confrontational and pragmatic approach of Japanese women's 'quiet revolution'. The conception of gender identity as a continuum, an endless process revisits and challenges the idea of a fixed, homogenous, authentic gender identity.
In this train of thoughts, the pursuit for concrete, detailed information connected to the Takarazuka Revue's actresses springs out of fans' personal interest. The practical systematization of knowledge occurs according to prevalent standards of production, transmission, hierarchization and perception of knowledge and information. Wikistemology referring to notes on the epistemology of wikipedified information as presented and represented by TakaWiki in case of Takarazuka Revue, appears as what one might call "the victory of contextualized cultural description over decontextualized grand theory" (Hendry 1999:11). It leads to fresh discourses on fandom and its relation to knowledge dissipation in late modernity, based on a classical definition of the role fandom plays in situating the self within any form of social group, as fluctuating as this might be:
"[F]andom is a visible (pathological) symptom of the supposed cultural, moral and social decline which has inevitably followed the transition from rural and agricultural to industrial and urban society. At its most benign, fandom represents a desperate attempt to compensate for the shortcomings of modern life." (Storey 1996:124)
If one takes into account the fact that the emergence, development and current situation of Takarazuka Revue are affected by a permanent interaction between fan communities, Takarazuka Revue administration, lobbyists and social analysts (Robertson 1992:182, 214), it becomes even more evident the dialectic interplay between Takarazuka Revue's efforts to fulfill its fans' desires and expectations - and to control respectively to neutralize them, to a certain degree - and the audience's reactions as to perceive, acknowledge and (re-)contextualize the multiple, complex, symbolical and allegorical significance levels contained in Takarazuka Revue's existence (Robertson 1998a:140). Within this bidirectional game of manipulation's acceptance and power's resistance, the paradoxical entities implied in such a unique phenomenon serve as equal parameters to construct and publicly display patterns of cultural identity in late-modern age.
In order to illustrate these statements, I shall proceed in three steps: (i) by elaborately describing the structure and contents of TakaWiki and by placing it within the historical context of postwar Takarazuka Revue; (ii) by elucidating the two main elements which contribute to creating Takarazuka Revue as a largely accepted institution of cultural dissemination within the international community through TakaWiki's popularity and persistence (this takes place beyond the androgynously ambivalent and charismatic otokoyaku and the apparently conformist and impersonal musumeyaku as two sides of the shôjo formulation); and (iii), in the conclusion, by examining the role played by encyclopedicly structured knowledge and information within the official discourse of production, dissipation and reception of cultural artefacts as displayed in the very act of turning them into discursive patterns. Fans and actresses (otokoyaku and musumeyaku) are regarded intrinsically, as historic-geographic entities respectively as on-stage embedded performers, and extrinsically, as social actors in the public sphere subject to limits, regulations and circumstances generated both by the quotidian society (Western and, to a certain extent, Japanese) and by the imaginations and expectations of Takarazuka Revue's specific environment (especially administrators' prescriptions).
The persistence of the dominant sex-gender ideology, which views females as objects of male desire and not the subjects of their own desire, effectively inhibits both naming that desire and identifying modes of female and male sexualities in Japan - and, as to be seen further below, in the West as well, though veiled. This analysis employs different strategies of performing gender and gender identity - and of creating discourses to name gender identity: ambivalence, love, nostalgia, irony, self-parody. Both fans and actresses (otokoyaku as well as musumeyaku) become thus messengers of a dialectical circular movement transgressing cultural borders and limits while reconfirming them. The resulting structures evoke a phoenix-like world, the product of its own desire, power and illusionary rebirth. In following Takarazuka Revue as a phenomenon sui generis, a novel counterpart to the all-male Kabuki theatre, its main protagonists - asexual dream boys (otokoyaku) and symbols of feminity (musumeyaku) - and its devoted fans, TakaWiki extends to a global level the continuation of a long-awaited revolution. This seems to be both the result of the 'quiet revolution' and the symbol of the deep, violent and painful paradigm changes in Japan - and in the world at large. While Takarazuka Revue's lighthearted musical romances are in fact fulfilled utopias - and eventually their own negation: a dream that vanishes when the dawn breaks -, TakaWiki emerges as a powerful tool to ascertain the necessity of significant words and gestures beyond artistic expression. Analyzing the construction of gender identity in modern Japan as mediated by actresses (both otokoyaku and musumeyaku) on-stage and by fans on-line means, eventually, deconstructing the dominant allegory of gendered hybrid, ambivalent dreams that Takarazuka Revue continues to exemplify and reconstructing it as a discursive metaphor to encompass lessons about genuine freedom, emancipation and self-actualization.
2. The wiki principle and the pursuit of knowledgeAs stated previously, TakaWiki is a product of Western fandom of Takarazuka Revue. Since its foundation in 1913 by Kobayashi Ichizō, Takarazuka Revue has become a symbol of modern Japanese entertainment, consumption and the popular culture industry (Kawasaki 2005: 67). Concurrently anachronistic in its gender exhibition and progressive in its performance practice, Takarazuka Revue reconstructs in a specific way asymmetric interactions between identity and alterity, challenging traditional concepts such as model and copy, all wrapped up in spectacular tunes, magnificent costumes and luxurious scenery. Though an imported genre from the West, mainly influenced by the French revue since the 1920s and additionally by the American musical since the 1960s, Takarazuka Revue actually continues the Japanese cross gender theatrical tradition emblematically represented by Nô and Kabuki with their highly stylized female impersonation, while reversing the positions of representation through the female interpreter of male roles, impersonations that here, likewise, are highly stylized (Grajdian 2011:12). Yet, Takarazuka Revue functions as the ideological and aesthetic base of several genres of Japanese entertainment culture - both those which have recently been recognized worldwide as global(ized) cultural products such as manga, anime, video games and those which are still deeply locally implemented such as TV dramas, TV shows and the aidoru [idol] phenomenon (Grăjdian 2009:31). The ideological dimension of Takarazuka Revue's influence upon the domestic popular culture condenses itself in the energy, passion and vitality radiated by most of such products as well as in the denomination of Japanese modern entertainment culture as a long, uninterrupted history of love, peace and courage with focus on friendship, endeavor and victory at least since 1968, that is, the founding year of manga magazine Shonen Jump. These features are supposed to be related (see Saitô 1996: 45; Watanabe 1999: 142) to Takarazuka Revue's motto "Kiyoku, tadashiku, utsukushiku" [purity, righteousness, beauty]. The aesthetic dimension of Takarazuka Revue's influence on Japanese culture, on the other hand, could be observed in the almost obsessive quest for endlessly long legs and incredibly big eyes in Japanese everyday life. Furthermore, Takarazuka Revue's market-connected characteristics cannot be denied as its relevance rests on its saleability - and yet Takarazuka Revue is simultaneously subjected to unusually strong dialectics (see Ortolani 1995:274). As a local appearance of the early 20th century, Takarazuka Revue contains strong elements belonging to the global market, indeed it continues the Japanese theater tradition of cross gender, but it was imported from the West, and profoundly influenced the domestic entertainment and consumption industry, a part of which has been accepted and recognized worldwide during the last decades - which in turn has metamorphosed in new Western genres of popular culture, only to be perceived and absorbed by the Japanese public world as Western entertainment forms.
Publicly, the typical cliché of a Takarazuka Revue fan within the impressive fan community is widely spread, embodied by a dreamy girl aged between 15 and 19 years, unmarried: the prototypical shôjo, either falling in love with otokoyaku or identifying herself with musumeyaku and striving to live according to Takarazuka Revue's ideals, namely "Purity, Righteousness, Beauty" (Berlin 1988:206, Domenig 1998:278, Hashimoto 1999:159f., Kawasaki 1999:208, Ôzasa 1995:261, Robertson 1992:169, 1998a:6). Contrary to this cliché, recent empirical research shows that Takarazuka Revue's Japanese audience is mainly composed of middle-class women aged between 30 and 60 years, married, divorced or widowed, and of a percentage of approximately 3 to 5 of men from various age areas (Ôzasa 1995:261, Grajdian 2009:219). Furthermore, Takarazuka Revue Japanese fans are distributed along a virtual scale according to the amount of consumption of Takarazuka Revue-related products and lifestyle. This encompasses performances, brand-goods, the production of fan-works and participation at real-life and virtual fan-clubs. At one end, there are the ‘beginners', mostly simple consumers of Takarazuka Revue performances. At the other end, there are the consummate fans deeply involved in the promotion and the merchandizing of Takarazuka Revue and its related products and events. Among others, they are organizing the so-called farewell-parties of the Takarazuka Revue actresses, they serve as drivers, prepare meals, solve administrative or secretarial tasks for their favorite actress, and often accompany those favorite actresses during their daily life. Somewhere in the middle of the scala, there are those fans who moderately take part in Takarazuka Revue's world, basically by attending the performances and pursuing online fan-activities.
On the other hand, Takarazuka Revue's Western fans often openly belong to the infamous shôjo category, as to be defined and outlined further below, and place themselves rather in the middle of the above-sketched scale:
"To become a fully female adult in Japan involves marriage and motherhood. Shôjo then denotes both heterosexually inexperienced females between puberty and marriage and that period of time itself (shôjoki)" (Robertson 1992:174).
These Western fans are those who initiated, created and are maintaining TakaWiki as the most exhaustive database on Takarazuka Revue in an Western language. Thus, it is important to regard on this background the diverse reasonings to affiliate oneself as Western consumer of popular culture to the fan-community of a Japanese phenomenon of popular culture, thus belonging to a completely different cultural sphere (see Jenkins 1992:44). As it has been largely explained during discussions with such Western fans, it seems that especially during times of historical upheavals, cultural differences appear more clearly as cultural similarities emerging as inputs to re-discover the common foundation of human existence. While building-up TakaWiki, Western fans seem to have been actively striving to re-create the atmosphere of a dream world which still keeps alive values and orientation posts which either have been lost along the way in Western popular culture - or culture, in general - or have never been acknowledged as such in that very Western (popular or not) culture. This is, in an extended worldview, the right - and the duty, to a certain degree - to live in here and now, accepting the hedonism of the ‘mono no aware' and the ideology of ‘carpe diem' as global challenges.
2.1. The classical encyclopedic approachInitiated, documented and preserved by a group of enthusiastic Western fans of Takarazuka Revue, TakaWiki is an immense database containing structured information on this phenomenon. Its uniqueness relates not only to the fact that in spite of Takarazuka Revue being, historically seen, a very popular phenomenon in Japan and throughout Asia, the English-language TakaWiki is the only structured database worldwide to contain systematic information on Takarazuka Revue, but also to its openness towards on-going changes and presumably necessary updates. Furthermore, the politics of faithful respect and acceptance reproduces the ideology - and to a certain extent, the aesthetics - of Takarazuka Revue Company, when stating in the "Site Disclaimer" - in English as well as in Japanese following principles:
This website is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and is not in any way affiliated with Hankyu or the Takarazuka company. The information and pictures on this website are meant to provide a good source of information in English for non-Japanese-speaking Takarazuka fans, and hopefully to attract even more interest in Takarazuka from the English-speaking parts of the world. We have the deepest respect and admiration for the Takarazuka Revue and wish to share our love for it with others.
The informational content on these pages has been compiled from various sources, and sometimes translated to the best of our ability from official Japanese pages. Due to the fact that we have imperfect knowledge of Japanese, there may be errors. Unless otherwise stated, information on these pages is considered public and may be taken for use on other websites; however, we do request that no one directly plagiarize the text itself. If you would like to use the actual text for your own site, please ask the author first.
The photographs on these pages are all copyrighted to the Hankyu corporation and have been scanned by us from our own personal collection. We have heard that the Hankyu corporation discourages the posting of photos of their actresses and performances on fan websites; copyright laws in the United States allow the posting of such pictures on personal fan sites and whenever possible, we use pictures from our own collections of official Takarazuka merchandise. We hold great respect for Takarazuka and the purpose of posting pictures here is to allow fans who cannot read Japanese webpages the opportunity to become familiar with the Takarazuka stars and performances. However, if you are an official or representative of the Hankyu corporation, and the content of this site offends you, please contact us and we will remove the offending material.
Starting with this Site Disclaimer, it becomes obvious that TakaWiki is not only - or not primarily - a fan site, but much more a prolongation in the West of Takarazuka Revue's values and representation system. This penetrates throughout the whole TakaWiki: the sincere strive to integrate this meta-world related to Takarazuka Revue into the traditional system which had created and developed the "real" Takarazuka Revue in terms of cultural heritage and perceived knowledge. The TakaWiki administrators and contributors are mainly Western Takarazuka Revue fans - nevertheless, simultaneously, they are not only consumers of Takarazuka Revue productions and goods, but perpetuators of its ideology and aesthetics beyond the Japanese archipelago. As to be shown further below, there seems to be a tacit tolerance of TakaWiki on the side of Takarazuka Revue administration.
Though it is quite difficult to find out who the administrators and editors in-charge of TakaWiki are, there are two names occurring often: Merry Shannon and Lucia Vale (aka princesslucia). They seem to supervise that the rules of belonging to the TakaWiki - and by extension: to the Takarazuka Revue - meta-world are respected and implemented during corrections, updates, fan-chats and forum discussions. As a registered user, one has access to an incommensurable amount of information which eases in an incredible way the work of anyone interested in Takarazuka Revue: both concerning historical overviews and in terms of staff or performance data.
As suggested above, what strikes for once at first glance in TakaWiki's case is its soberness. As declared in the Site Disclaimer, it is indeed a fan internet page, and subject to the corresponding regulations - but its structure and layout speak rather of a scientific tackling of Takarazuka Revue as popular phenomenon and its inclusion within the framework of serious encyclopedic ambitions. TakaWiki is a digital encyclopedia created at the dawn of the genre and marks the revitalization of this very genre through its conditioning to the circumstances of knowledge as a means of integration and belonging. Western fans have discovered Takarazuka Revue, according to their own statements, accidentally during short-time visits to Japan and have hardly any further possibility to join Takarazuka Revue performances live. Thus, they find in the creation and maintenance of a virtual fan community the symbolic fulfillment of their own longings. While in Japan, joining a Takarazuka Revue fan club could be quite expensive, but it is still an open, realistic alternative. Outside of Japan, meeting other Takarazuka Revue fans and exchanging ideas, opinions, nostalgias, as well as the purchase of Takarazuka Revue-related goods or simply receiving news is very near to an impossible mission. In this train of thoughts, TakaWiki's sobriety is a sign of identification and quest for belonging in the fans' imaginary world where Takarazuka Revue's "dream world" is possibly the "best of worlds."
When opening TakaWiki, it reveals the classical threefold structure: the left-handed column includes the main menu, the main window presents the information one should take into account at first glance, and the right-handed menu refers to user-specific information such as login-logout, bookmarks, online-users and news since last login. The first entry on the left-handed menu is TakaWiki Home, followed by an "Introduction", "Rules" and "Contact the Webmistress" - which are also present in the middle of the main window. While the "Welcome" page and the "Contact the Webmistress" page contain the usual elements in the common layout, the "Introduction" and "Rules" pages strike due to their characteristics which one could best describe as "sober suavity". On the one hand, there is the very clear effort to regulate the usage and maintenance of the TakaWiki according to Western standards of a serious encyclopedia based on scientific standards. On the other hand, there is the very obvious strive to copy the Takarazuka Revue specific atmosphere and to implement its (in)famous volunteership within the framework of absolute, abstract knowledge.
The second menu entry "General Information" includes basic relevant information: The sub-entry "Takarazuka Revue" offers an overview of what a definition on Takarazuka Revue might be, a description of a typical performance, a presentation of the Takarazuka Music Academy and the commented explanation of the company's troupe(s) and star(s) system. The next sub-entry "History of the Revue" includes an exhaustive, though somehow schematic, historical overview of Takarazuka Revue, leaving dubious parts such as wartime international tours or perception during tours abroad uncommented. While the next two entries - "Buying Goods" and "Going to See a Show" - include general information on the ways and means to get concrete grasp of the Takarazuka Revue world, and the last entry "Glossary of Terms" offers a synthetic overview of Takarazuka Revue's main specific concepts and notions, the penultimate entry entitled "Fan Activities" is rather unfortunate placed here, as fans, though an integrate part of the Takarazuka Revue phenomenon, are a very distinct part of the entertainment industry - and in case of TakaWiki, they stand out both as creators and as consumers.
The third entries block grouped under "Specific Information" starts with "News" which are translations and adaptations from daily information contained in newspapers and journals, mostly Japanese. This is very fortunate, helping to keep updated with any changes - and especially retirements - in the company. "This Week in Takarazuka" could be interpreted as a division of the "News" entry - but it is not: in fact, the key-difference to the previous entry is the delivery of information on the quotidian on-goings within the company which are not media-relevant. The next five entries - "Performances", "Actresses", "Staff", "Publications", "Media" - contain valuable information both historically and systematically concerning Takarazuka Revue. The "Performances" entry includes the complete list of all performances ever staged by Takarazuka Revue Company: historically (by year), by troupe, alphabetically (both English titles and Japanese romanized titles), by special events such as international tours, concerts or commercial performances, by directors etc. Furthermore, the "Actresses" entry offers an exhaustive display of all Takarazuka Revue's actresses, former and current, according to different criteria: by topstar chart, by leader and vice-leader of every troupe, in alphabetical order (surname or first name), by nickname, by troupe, by class, by retirement year, by Japanese character of their geimei (stage name). The "Staff" entry starts with the ‘Kobayashi Family' (Kobayashi Ichizô, Kobayashi Kôhei, Kobayashi Kôichi), continues with the current members of the board of directors, then with a comprehensive list of directors, playwrights, adaptors, followed by alphabetical lists of assistant directors, composers, choreographers, conductors and visiting staff (Japanese as well as foreign). The penultimate entry of this category "Publications" (including regular and non-regular printed information on Takarazuka Revue such as Kageki or Takarazuka Graph, photobooks and songbooks) and the last entry "Media" (containing exclusive lists of all audio-video media produced by Takarazuka Creative Art such as Blu-Ray Discs, DVDs, CDs, Vides etc.) offer an insightful panorama into the large spectrum of Takarazuka Revue's products outside the performance practice.
The forth entries block "Meta-Content" includes four sub-divisions: "Translations", "Fan Creations", "Takarazuka Links" and "Past Pools", available only to registered users - except for "Takarazuka Links" which displays an impressive lists of current information on Takarazuka Revue, mainly in Japanese. The penultimate entries block is called "Forums" and includes "Introductions" (a mini-discussion forum), "Site discussion" (containing discussions forum led by TakaWiki members on most various topics), "Editor discussion" (close for non-editors, even when registered user), "News and Gossip" (very entertaining, though sometimes rather sexually flavoured), "Actresses and Shows" (again, light gossip and useful current information on actresses and shows), "Live Performances" (strikingly similar to the entry "This Week in Takarazuka"), "Ask questions" (very useful for newcomers, both in TakaWiki and in Takarazuka Revue). The last entries block called "Site Related" includes "List All Pages" (very informative for statistical overviews) and "Editors Pages" (close for non-editors), rounding up the TakaWiki encycopledic endeavor as a complex and elaborate work, fully compatible with the dimensions of Takarazuka Revue as a cultural phenomenon.
Compared to the Takarazuka Revue official homepage, TakaWiki represents by far a more comprehensible - a comprehensive - source of information and inspiration, not at last due to the fact that is available in English. Legitimate seems as well the question as to the position of the Takarazuka Revue Corporation or of the Hankyû Corporation to TakaWiki - when questioned on this issue, several representative figures from within the corporation avoided direct answers, preferring a rather ambivalent attitude as "it is only fan-work" or "inoffensive English-speaking fan-jokes". However, the fact that official pictures of the Takarazuka Revue actresses as well as official posters are displayed within the TakaWiki database suggests the tacit acceptance on the part of the Takarazuka Revue administration, TakaWiki being the most important advertisement portal for Takarazuka Revue in the West and in Western languages.
2.2. The innovative dialectical approachWhile regarding TakaWiki's position within the general framework of virtual fan-based encyclopedias, it is important to take into account two major dimensions of Takarazuka Revue and of its related phenomena: the first one refers to the representation of a ‘new Japan' as wakon yôsai (‘Japanese spirit, Western knowledge/technology') coined during the late 1880s in Japan; the second one refreshes the syntagm "purity, righteousness, beauty" as parameters of the shôjo ideal in its prewar concoction and as steps in preparing a female towards becoming a ryôsai kenbo (‘good wife, wise mother'), again a structure emerged by mid-1870s in Japan.
Takarazuka Revue is, according to Kobayashi Ichizô's ideal, a specific concretization form of ‘new Japan' (shin-nippon) represented during the late 1930s by a certain group of the Japanese intellectual and political elite (Kobayashi 1955:23, Robertson 1998a:32, 1998b:289). Thus, identity appears in a first step as a necessary delimitation of the ‘inside' from the ‘outside', pursued in the first third of the Meiji period (1868-1912) under the slogan sonnô jôi - "revere the emperor, expel the barbarians!". In a further step, identity develops to being an inevitable absorption of the repressed or rejected ‘outside' which led during the 1880s in Japan to a fresh analysis and observation of that very ‘outside': bunmei kaika - "civilization and enlightenment". Eventually, separation and re-absorption activate further interactions and developments, synthesized in the slogan of the 1890s in Japan wakon yôsai - „Japanese spirit, Western knowledge/technology" (Mathews 2000:14-33, see Bourdieu 1998:21, 59, Lyotard 1979:105). Kobayashi promoted Takarazuka Revue as a doctrine-like integration and completion of this solution by setting femininity and feminine sexuality in a highly symbolical and ambivalent relation to the West. On the one hand, Kobayashi's vision of ‘new Japan' represented a combination of Western techniques and information and Japanese cultural elements. On the other hand, Japan stayed in his imagination as a homogeneous, mythical structure, the only trustworthy bearer of Asian history and culture and the unique possibility to preserve Asia for Asian people (Kobayashi 1955:76). In this train of thoughts, Takarazuka Revue can - and must - create and mediate as mass theater a common awareness and a common identity, as, while the traditional stage arts such as Nô, Kabuki or Bunraku are alienating for most Japanese people nowadays, Takarazuka Revue is a ‘entertainment medium' for the whole family.
Through the magical charisma of Takarazuka Revue's motto "Purity, righteousness, beauty" ("Kiyoku, tadashiku, utsukushiku"), implemented in the year 1933 by Kobayashi, and under the spell of its far-ranging effects on the audience, the belief of a peaceful construction of the modern subject emerges - a subject who respects the traditional values, roles, hierarchies and prohibitions, and is still able to create new worlds (Kawasaki 1999:72, Robertson 1998a:215). Thus, the Takarazuka Revue actresses metamorphose into a symbol of a innovative handling of tradition and self, due to the rigid hierarchy and the strict limitations imposed upon them during their training and maintained later along their career as well - even after they have left (‘graduated from') the Takarazuka Revue Corporation (see Berlin 1988:230, Kawasaki 1999:198): From this perspective, while avoiding the classical form of ‘oppression' where the subject is confined within prescribed spaces by an outside instance and is forced to give up its own personality and desire, Takarazuka Revue embodies, on a universal level, a more subtle form of submission - a process during which the subject internalizes the outer power structure and perceives it as an own compulsion (see Butler 1993:71, 2001:33, Foucault 1969:244). This becomes obvious in the fact that modern, enlightened Japanese women - ‘enlightened' to be comprised as the result of most various romantic and/or feminist emancipation movements - identify themselves with the naïve, unmarried Takarazuka Revue actresses and adopt their thinking and behaving models while transforming themselves into faithful, still modifying copies of this permanently negotiated gender identity. Moreover, the ‘male' or ‘maleness' as the symbol of Japan or of ‘Japaneseness' disappears gradually and is replaced by its female counterpart. Thus, in such a world, confused by consumerism and economic power, the takarasienne - the Takarazuka Revue actress - emerges increasingly as a self-confident and reliable mediator of that very conservative tradition which created it in the first place, and delivers it to future generations while engraving the seeds of progress.
Along Takarazuka Revue's history, it was mainly the androgynously charismatic and ambivalent figure of otokoyaku that transported its ideals. However, compared to the apparently submissive and conformist musumeyaku as seen in her identification roles, otokoyaku's position suggests a strongly dialectical movement between traditional role models and innovative consumption patterns. As a starting point, one should recall Kobayashi Ichizô's statement that audiences should desire the otokoyaku, but identify themselves with musumeyaku (Tsuganesawa 1991:33-37). Since these identification models became predominant, the objectivization of the otokoyaku as object and symbol of desire as well as site of projection, to use Kristeva's termini (1974:296), transformed the otokoyaku from a model of male presence into a mirror of female desires and self-fulfillment projections, though regarded from a male perspective. Thus, every otokoyaku abandons the sphere of her own identity and accedes the public space; she metamorphoses into a symbol for something which she can impossibly be and she must obey the limits, rules and circumstances imposed upon her from the outside. Exactly like Don Quixote in another spatial and temporal culture who meets in the second part of the novel persons to have already read the first part of the novel, and who must be faithful to the book which he had become himself, which he must protect from misapprehensions, counterfeits and apocryphal continuations, to paraphrase Foucault (1969:168), an otokoyaku must follow her own discourse and transform herself into an object of the process which she herself as a subject had originally created.
The shôjo as represented by the TakaWiki creators and promoters is a reinvigoration of the original shôjo, meaning "girl" as a delimited social group emerged at the dawn of the 20th century in Japan, when a range of shôjo magazines aiming mostly at educational goals via comic strips were published as early as 1902 Shôjo-kai [Girls' World], 1906 Shôjo sekai [Girls' World] and 1908 Shôjo no tomo [Girls' Friend]. As WWII progressed, magazines containing comics, and especially those referring to shôjo readership, perhaps regarded as frivolous, began to disappear. (Takarazuka Revue itself was called between 1919 and 1940 Takarazuka Shôjo Kageki[dan]: Takarazuka Girls Revue [Company].) In the postwar era, the shôjo concept underwent an abrupt revitalization followed by a spectacular re-semantization process in domestic subcultures, in the course of which it was loaded with the current meaning of "liberated, empowered young unmarried woman." The shôjo was originally represented in anime and manga works and subsequently migrated to other fields of (popular) culture(s) (see Schodt 1986: 32). The playful manipulation of values and ideals as well as their noncommittal integration within the framework of the plots and identification modes stand on-stage for the historically emergent disbelief in inherited and as such established existential attitudes.
日本人はもはや「生産者」ではない。外部からもたらされる「モノ」を流通させ消費し、要するに「モノ」と戯れるだけの存在である。しかもこの「モノ」さえも、生活に直接の役に立つものよりも、何の役にも立たないただの記号としての「モノ」（ぼくたちが日々購入するものの中で、それがないと生死にかかわるなどというものはまったく存在しない。はっきりいって全部むだなもの、である）、あるいはもはや具体的な「モノ」でさえなく、情報や株、土地といった実態のない記号へと変化しつつある。こういうぼくたちの共通感覚を何と名づけたらよいのだろう。それが「少女」なのである。 (Ôtsuka 1991:18)
While in case of Japanese Takarazuka Revue fans, most of the fans fit, statistically speaking, within the compartimentalization "middle-class, middle age", in case of Western Takarazuka Revue fans, they belong rather in the category "middle-class shôjo" as designed by prewar rhetorics. Thus, Western fans do not simply passively enjoy the emotional-ethical benefits of a cultural phenomenon they don't really belong to, but subsequently appropriate it and strive for internalization via virtual dissipation of information. This specific information metamorphoses, in its turn, into solidified knowledge upon the leading institution in Japan's entertainment industry. The flight towards innocent, pure worlds displayed by Takarazuka Revue in opposition to the real world becomes for the TakaWiki administrators and contributors the quest for identity and self-actualization through active participation within a cultural appearance which doesn't, in fact, reverberate with their very geographic-historical embedment. Still, this was the original purpose of Takarazuka Revue's founder, Kobayashi Ichizô:
The emergence of individual tensions in the process of growing-up and maturing calls for collisions between the semiotic and the symbolic level of identity construction in Julia Kristeva's (1974:158) reading of the endeavor, and is reflected in the emblematic figures of Takarazuka Revue's intrinsic and extrinsic world - actresses and fans. An important issue in this context is the transition from cute (kawaii) to cool (kakkoii) in an anthropological sense, that is, in Joy Hendry's parlance (2000:33), the emancipation from being represented by others (in Lacan's words "being the phallus") to itself representing oneself and the others (in Lacan's words "having the phallus"), visible in the interplay of musumeyaku's cute transcendence (kawaii) and otokoyaku's ludic coolness (kakkoii). TakaWiki takes over this tension and re-writes the emergence of a new identity paradigm based on tenderness (yasashisa) as a fresh, dynamic manipulation of middle-class ideals through the restructuring of emotional values. Simultaneously, the fundamental reconsideration of Takarazuka Revue's position within the spectrum of Japanese modern culture as a possibly integral part of a larger world culture rests upon its administrators' awareness that incorporative isolation is no alternative to indiscriminate internationalization. The very existence of TakaWiki is a result of strategic tolerance in response to tight corporative politics. This dialectic handling of the self and of the other requires, according to the existential model promoted by Takarazuka Revue as brand, a re-evaluation of humanity, not as a competitive undertaking, but as a playful togetherness.
Ignoring the increasing socio-cultural fragmentation within the historical embedment and the anonymization of the masses as well as the alienation of the individuals within those masses, the archaeology of knowledge as displayed by TakaWiki draws on the aesthetics of the self and the ideology of the other in a version of cultural imperialism based on implementation rather than proliferation and on the revitalization of the classics rather than the escaladation of modernity. Thus, the ambivalence of identity as represented by the Cool Japan movement clashes with the latency of desire within internationally driven and nationally marketed strategies to implement ‘Japaneseness': the long way from the original wakon kansai (‘Japanese spirit, Chinese knowledge/technology') in the premodernity through the Meiji slogan wakon yôsai (‘Japanese spirit, Western knowledge/technology') until the presumptively forthcoming wakon wasai (‘Japanese spirit, Japanese knowledge/technology'). Therefore, the apparently Western genre coupled with Japanese contents turns through Takarazuka Revue and subsequently through TakaWiki in the global(ized) world from an illusionary Westernization of Japanese ideals into the Japanisation of Western ideals: is this the end-station of what Alexandre Kojève prophetically envisaged in 1959, "not a vulgarisation of Japan, but rather a japanisation of the West, a formal continuation of humanity in a post-historical world" (quoted in Tobin 2004:8)? In the increasingly global age (see Azuma 1999:45, 2001:34, Ôtsuka 1990:27)., Takarazuka Revue's characters are pursuing their initiation trips and achieving ideological universality, while their fans are expanding these endeavors on the level of virtual knowledge appropriation, dissipation and implementation: the role encyclopedias always played.
3. Conclusion: towards a new taxonomic paradigmI started this paper by stating that Japan is redefining superpower as a cultural issue. In the light of its findings, I should reformulate this statement by adding that Japan is redefining superpower through the re-invention of humanity as a transcendent endeavor and an orchestration of tenderness as an emergent identity paradigm. Otokoyaku is an ideological construction mirroring female desires and expectations - and as such, is an illusionary identity which can never be attained. Fans' fulfillment in the imaginary world should confirm to the otokoyaku's magic, but also place them on the musumeyaku's level (Kawasaki 2005: 105-108). In TakaWiki, the overcoming of a capitalist human ideal ("[someone] who is prudently restrained in the office and wildly anarchic in the shopping mall", Eagleton 2003: 28) and the turning of the spotlight towards more normative concerns like the integration of the individual within the community, the importance of the family, the nostalgic depiction of one's homeland, the enhancement of money and career as a means of making a living and not as an ultimate existential goal, and the moderate patriotism - however arguable they might be elsewhere - gradually led to the formulation of a re-solidified identity paradigm as self-reflexive project to harmoniously unify lucidity and compassion, courage and perseverance, sincerity and respect: this seems to be the core structure of the homo tener, the tender human, calling calls for a (more) affectionate relationship with the self and the other.
The starting point of this analysis was the consideration of TakaWiki's ability to reflect and convert the socio-cultural tendencies of late-modern Japan, as represented by Takarazuka Revue. As a self-proclaimed mirror of the Japanese world, Takarazuka Revue absorbs the current historical tendencies in Japan and transforms them artistically; on the basis of Takarazuka Revue's sketched stages of late-modern Japanese culture as well as on its ideological and aesthetic achievements, further forms of canonically accredited mass industries - such as anime, manga, video games, fashion, J-Pop music, SUPERFLAT art and design - generate, propagate and implement new identity paradigms similar to Takarazuka Revue's original model (see Murakami 2000: 11-12). In turn, Takarazuka Revue takes over the current tendencies of Japanese society which had been previously molded by renowned mass industries and it develops them artistically, only to be subsequently perpetuated by other forms of Japanese contemporary culture. This appears as an endless, spiral-like process. TakaWiki takes over at this point and carries further the artistic endeavor on a virtual level, by means of collecting useful information and implementing it as powerful knowledge. Thus, the arrival point of this analysis seems to be the issue that tenderness as promoted by Takarazuka Revue emerges as the ideological and aesthetic core of a re-solidified identity paradigm, to be adopted, reproduced and perpetuated by approved mass-media, in Japan and subsequently worldwide.
Indifferent as to whether the world described as "a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel" (in a letter from Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann, 1769, quoted in Bauman 2001: 54) moves towards its self-orchestrated destruction, Takarazuka Revue accompanied by TakaWiki stubbornly continues designing identity patterns as aesthetic-ideological formulations and concretizations of tenderness in its performances and its public exposures. Thus, tenderness as an answer to hatred and war becomes the Japanese contribution to worldwide altercations. Through tenderness as an existential attitude one could re-discover one's own humanity due to a soft(er) interaction with the self and the others; the re-discovery of this lost or forgotten humanity might lead to the regaining of control over one's own life, in opposition to George Orwell's 1984 or Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (see Bauman 2001: 97). During the last five years, tenderness configures as the symbolic core of a new, re-solidified identity paradigm both in Takarazuka Revue's performance practice and in its marketing strategies, leading to the development of fresh life patterns. It is a progressive return to the creatively loaded early 1930s when Kobayashi Ichizō compiled and introduced the Takarazuka Revue motto "Kiyoku, tadashiku, utsukushiku" as existential slogan. If, as culturally presented in Takarazuka Revue's productions recently, discreet elegance and composed submission become the new social paradigms, then responsibility and courage, assiduity and modesty become the political-economic paradigms implementing the Japanese solution as a life model; balanced by nostalgia as an emotional layer, these existential patterns conditioned by tenderness are the catalyst of cultural revitalization and the basic principles of a liberal, optimist regeneration of middle-class aspirations (see Miegel 2007: 189). Ultimately, Takarazuka Revue reinforces tenderness emerging from the rightful handling of compassion and hope, lucidity and perseverance as a solution to current problems and misunderstandings within the international community, a correct manipulation of love that can propagate and implement peace, prosperity and happiness. However, the Japaneseness of such solutions is less stressed in the plots and in the construction of the characters of recent performances; rather, the universality of these aspirations and the necessity of a stable identity paradigm in clear historical contexts seem the main issues displayed on-stage and in the marketing campaigns carried publicly.
TakaWiki confirms on-line Takarazuka Revue's official efforts, so that beyond that typical stylistic cacophony, ideological inconsistency and aesthetic contradictions, the public space Takarazuka Revue flowers out as a romantic world - and first of all, a world full of longing for romantics. As an alternative to the modern Japanese every-day, infused with Western influences, dominated by consumerism, excess and surplus, Takarazuka Revue offers via the overwhelming display of these parameters - Western-like appearance of the actresses, consumption-driving marketing strategies, excess and surplus celebrating performance practice - the model of a rigorous, disciplined lifestyle as way to individual and national fulfillment while focusing on important tasks: in the slender, fragile, shy figure of the takarasienne. The Western Takarazuka Revue fan - that specific form of (Western) shôjo compiled upon (Japanese) prewar standards of juvenile femininity - is a mirror image of that daily negotiated identity and awareness. In the process of identity stylization in late modern Japan, and possibly in the late-modern world at large, the takarasienne appears simultaneously as essence of the Japaneseness and as a chaos-driving force within the traditional patriarchal order in spite of her traditional, familist education, due to the powerful symbols she is loaded with. However, for the creation of a singular, univocal, autonomous identity paradigm compatible with late-modern challenges, such a disturbing instance is inevitable. The disorder permanently insinuated by the takarasienne in the stress ratio between otokoyaku and musumeyaku mirrors the instability and ambiguity of the Japanese modernity as reputed monolith. Eventually, almost 100 years after its foundation, Takarazuka Revue seems to have become what its founder Kobayashi Ichizō dreamed of: the self-conscious icon of modern Japan, a unique synthesis of Japanese spirit and Western technology/knowledge, emblematically embodied by the ambivalent, fascinating and mysterious figure of the takarasienne.
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BAUMAN, Zygmunt (2001): The individualized society, Cambridge: Polity.
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BUTLER, Judith (2001): Psyche der Macht - Das Subjekt der Unterwerfung, übersetzt von Reiner Ansen, Frankfurt-am-Main: Suhrkamp Verlag.
CASTELLS, Manuel (1997). The information age: Economy, society and culture. Volume II: The power of identity. Cambridge, MA & Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
DOMENIG, Roland (1998): "Takarazuka and Kobayashi Ichizô's Idea of 'Kokumingeki'", in: The Culture of Japan as Seen through Its Leisure, herausgegeben von Sabine Frühstück und Sepp Linhart, Albany: State University of New York Press, S. 267-284.
DRAZEN, Patrick (2003): Anime explosion! - The what? why? & wow! of Japanese animation, Berkeley: Stone Bridge.
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GRĂJDIAN, Maria (2005): Takarazuka Revue oder die Überwindung der Tradition, Wilhelmshaven: Florian Noetzel (11. Band in der Serie „Studien zur traditionellen Musik Japans", herausgegeben von Robert Günther).
GRĂJDIAN, Maria (2009): Flüssige Identität: Die postmoderne Liebe, die Takarazuka Revue und die Suche nach einer neuen Aufklärung, Bucharest: National Music University.
GRAJDIAN, Maria (2011): „Kiyoku, tadashiku, utsukushiku: Takarazuka Revue and the project of identity (re-)solidification", in: Contemporary Japan 23/1, pp. 5-25.
HASHIMOTO, Masao (1999): Subarashii Takarazuka Kageki - Yume to roman no 85-toshi [The wonderful Takarazuka Revue: 85 years of dreams and romance], Takarazuka: Takarazuka Kagekidan.
HENDRY, Joy (1999): Other People's Worlds - An Introduction to Cultural and Social Anthropology, New York: New York University Press.
Hendry, Joy (2000): The orient strikes back - A global view of cultural display, Oxford & New York: Berg.
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ROBERTSON, Jennifer Ellen (1992): "Doing and Undoing 'Female' and 'Male' in Japan - The Takarazuka Revue", in: Japanese Social Organisation, herausgegeben von Takie Sugiyama Lebra, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, pp. 165-193.
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 "Superpower" is referred to as a nation-state able to propagate and protect its own interests on a transnational level within the increasing multilateral interdependence between nation-states at the turn of the millennium - via cultural assets (Castells 1997: 262-269; see also McGray 2002: 45).
 In the following lines, I use the word "actress" to refer generally to Takarazuka Revue performers. The Japanese word used in the Takarazuka Revue specific terminology is seito, usually translated as "pupil" or "student"; the employment of the seito notion to describe the Takarazuka Revue actresses alludes to the fact that, while active in the Takarazuka Revue enterprise and on its stage, the actresses' status is equals to beginners in the traditional order - a status which they can only overcome when they finish their career as Takarasiennes and enter the "real world" of the grown-ups (Ueda 1976: 37). Takarasienne is another name for Takarazuka Revue actresses introduced by the director Shirai Tetsuzō who compared the cute Takarazuka Revue actresses with the beautiful Parisiennes at the Moulin Rouge (Hashimoto 1999: 11).
 Kobayashi Ichizō (1873-1957), Japanese industrialist and politician, was one of the most influential and progressive entrepreneurs in prewar Japan. He is best known as the founder of the Hankyû Railways Company in 1907 with its main terminal at Umeda station in Osaka and for his successful development of the railway infrastructure in an adverse region in the northern part of Kansai (West-Japan) through the implementation of residential areas along the railway line, an amusement park, a department store at the railway terminal as well as, in time, the main attraction: the Takarazuka Grand Theater in Takarazuka (Iwahori 1972: 47; Watanabe 1999: 39).
 While it is true that Japanese popular culture - especially anime and manga - abounds with dark, depressing, even psychotically tinged visions, fans and experts repeatedly mentioned the subliminally omnipresent message of "love, hope and trust" transported by Japanese subcultural products (see Drazen 2003: 36).
 Especially Tezuka Osamu's works, in which this aesthetics predominates, functioned as the main means of propagating and implementing the "long legs and big eyes" beauty ideal in the Japanese everyday life. I argue that besides his undeniable affinity to American animation (Walt Disney, Max Fleischer), it was rather the pre-existence of this aesthetic in the Japanese cultural environment, specifically represented by the strong popularity level that Takarazuka Revue had already attained, that induced Tezuka Osamu - a declared fan of Takarazuka Revue - to take this aesthetic over and transform it into a national hallmark.
 It was already in 1935 that Takarazuka Revue fans were divided into five categories under the umbrella-notion of shôjo, according to their behaviour towards Takarazuka revue actresses (Hirabayashi 1935:73-75; see Robertson 1998a:151.153, Grajdian 2005:94-95). What one might call an ‘internalisation attempt' affects until now the public perception of a 'typical' Takarazuka Revue fan as being a specific form of shôjo (Ortolani 1995:275, Robertson 1998a:151), resulting into a subsequent naturalization of cultural contradictions and leading almost inevitably to the gradual transgression and dissolution of boundaries. Thus, Takarazuka Revue's official rhetorics asserted that all Japanese women, indifferent as to if they belonged to the fan community or not, should fit in one of the five categories, baing basically influenced by the actresses' appearance and behavior - actresses who were, in their turn, part of a remarkably rigid, traditionalist, male-centred system. These categories were: the courtisane (onnataiyûkei: those fans treating the actresses in a dignified manner); the early-bird (shohatsukei: those fans living their lives in the shadow of Takarazuka Revue's world and actresses); the poetical type (wakarankei: those young girls developing romantic feelings towards the actresses); the bodyguard (goeikei: those fans following their favourite actresses everywhere and protecting them); the copy-cat (sôjikei: those fans faithfully imitating their favourite actresses).
 The syntagm ‘mono no aware', usually translated as "the pathos of things" or "a sensitivity to ephemera", refers to the awareness of the impermanence or transcience of things and beings, expressing both a gentle sadness at their very passing and a longer, deeper kind sadness about this state being the reality of life (Keene 1993:118).
 Apart from the translation into Japanese of this Site Disclaimer, there are only very few other Japanese texts within the whole database. It is supposedly a kind of "special service" towards the Japanese Takarazuka Revue administrators, presumably not very proficient in their English language.
 Some of the lines included in the left-handed menu are also presented on the main window.
 The exhaustiveness of the data could be proved to a certain extent. There could be some lack of information the deeper one goes back in Takarazuka Revue's history due to lack of reliable information. The same applies to the next four entries „Actresses", "Staff", "Publications" and "Media".
 Interestingly, though Kobayashi's original intention was to transform Takarazuka Revue into an entertainment space for the whole family, eventually, the audience became to an over 95% ratio female (Hashimoto 1999: 29).
 The Japanese are no longer producers. Their existence is composed only of distribution and consumption of ‘things' which are brought from somewhere out there and with which we are playing. These ‘things' seizable, but instead they are signs without any direct connection to the existence itself. None of such ‘things' would create a problem of life and death in case of its disappearance. These ‘things' are converted continuously into substance-less signs - like information, stocks or parcels of land. How could we call the current lifestyle? We call it ‚shôjo'.
 It seems that this concept of girls' opera/revue as "refreshing and refined entertainment" respectively its goal as an ideal emerged quite early in Kobayashi's heart. An [important] proof hereof is Kobayashi Ichizô's statement that he himself could find his emotional comfort through the purity and refinement of the girls's opera/revue against the dirt, which he had to experience after the fall of his principal supporter Iwashita Seishû from Kitahama bank, as well as against the dirt of the ‘unjust world', against ‘lies, hypocrisy and selfishness' in this exhausting, competing society.
Sourse: The Return of the Encyclopedia (2014)
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